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Man hospitalized after pet diamondback rattlesnake bites him

A Floral Park man was hospitalized after being bitten on the hand by his pet diamondback rattlesnake, one of a handful of reptiles - most venomous - he kept at his residence in violation of New York State law, authorities said.

Robert Lantier, 31, was bitten inside his Oak Street home late Thursday morning and taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx for treatment where hospital spokeswoman Barbara DeIorio said he was in fair condition yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday evening, animal control officers from the Suffolk SPCA and the State Department of Environmental Conservation emerged from the man's home with the reptiles in large containers secured with duct tape. Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said the seized reptiles included a cobra, a baby eyelash viper, a bamboo viper, an albino diamondback rattlesnake and a 3-foot crocodile monitor. Crocodile monitors, native to Papua New Guinea, can grow to 10 feet and are considered among the world's longest lizards.

Jacobi's Dr. Michael Touger, who runs the region's snake bite treatment unit at the hospital, said the bite was treated with the antivenin Crofab. The hospital treats about five or six snake poisonings a year, Touger said.

A Floral Park Police Department sergeant at the house said Lantier would receive a summons for keeping the reptiles. Police were called after Lantier was bitten and police then called the state DEC who called the Suffolk County SPCA.

The officers spent about an hour inside the home. In case any one of them was bitten, ambulances and paramedics were on the block and a helicopter hovered above to rush any bitten officer to the hospital.

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